However, you must consider taking caution when cooking your food in this manner. There has been research performed within the past 15 years showing that grilling isn’t as healthy as we thought. Cooking foods at high temperatures, have been shown as one of the factors leading to disease. Some of these are heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and certain cancers as well as causing an acceleration in aging. This risk becomes even more critical for those already diagnosed with these health conditions.
This grilling hazard to your health is the result of toxins that are produced and absorbed into the body. These highly toxic substances are called AGEs or Advanced Glycation End Products . AGEs are created when sugar attaches to either protein or fat in dry heat at high temperatures. Think of it as what happens when you brown food giving it that nice looking appearance and flavor. These compounds form during dry-heat cooking methods and may cause an increase in inflammation which can damage body tissue.
AGEs cause oxidative stress and inflammation in your body. This can contribute to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries especially in people diagnosed with diabetes. AGEs have also been associated with other chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease as stated above. Inflammation and oxidative stress have been associated with many chronic diseases such as chron’s , arthritis and colitis. Other life threatening conditions associated with a rise in AGEs are inflammation of the heart or myocarditis and nephritis or kidney inflammation leading to high blood pressure and possibly kidney failure.
Helen Vlassara, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, stated that advanced glycation end products, or AGEs are formed during high temperature cooking such as grilling, frying and flame-broiling of meat. Before Helen Vlassara’s research at mount sinai, it was thought that AGEs were produced only by our own bodies. Dr. Vlassara's research showed that 10 percent of AGEs in food are absorbed by the body and remain in various tissues for a long time. AGEs not only age your body but also your brain. Studies have shown links between high AGEs and Alzeheimer's disease because of inflmmation. AGEs are abundant in brain lesions of persons with Alzheimer's or other dementias. Recently, persons over the age of 80 with memory loss were found to have much higher levels of AGEs in their blood than peers whose memory was intact.
AGEs form when food is cooked at high temperatures and are the most susceptible when food is browned or “cripsy.” The most dangerous are high-protein, high-fat foods cooked at high temperatures in a dry environment. For example; grilling or broiling for 15 or more minutes contains more than five times as many AGE’s as the same exact food boiled or stewed for one hour.
Mount Sinai research concluded that you can significantly lower the amount of AGE’s in your diet by varying the cooking time and temperature of animal protein foods. Another tip is to marinate meat before grilling as it might lower the amount of AGEs produced.
Here are Some Easy Tips to Decrease Your Overall Exposure to AGEs:
- Avoid processed foods. These may have been exposed to high temperatures to lengthen their shelf life.
- Fill up on raw or steamed fruits and vegetables.
- Eat meat or high protein animal products less often, instead switch them out for whole grains or plant protein. Try my favorite plant protein products at http://www.beyondmeat.com/
- Use moist-heat cooking methods more often including steaming, boiling stewing, braising or use a crock pot.
- Consume less fatty foods, trim fat from meat prior to cooking at high temperatures.
- Marinate meat in acidic liquids such as vinegar or lemon juice.
- Cook food to the side of the heat source rather than directly over it.
- When cooking meat on the grill, raise the rack to the highest point as far away from the heat as possible.
- After cooking cut off any portions of food that were charred or look too crispy!